Questions of Cash: Corgi's refund takes heat out of HomePlan upset


Q. In autumn 2011, Corgi offered us its HomePlan central heating cover, which we paid monthly from November 2011. In spring 2012, it offered to extend the cover to include home electrics, which I agreed to. The policy included an annual central heating service, to be carried out before November each year. I phoned on 29 September 2012 to remind it of this and to request the annual service – we had problems restarting the central heating after it had been switched off for the summer.

I was promised an engineer would contact me, but I heard nothing. I emailed twice and phoned again, but still nothing happened. I then cancelled the direct debit, and a local engineer serviced our system. I requested a refund of the £221.82 paid in premiums to Corgi. Again my correspondence was ignored. I paid £204 to the local engineer for a service that I had paid Corgi for, but which was not provided. PS, Leeds.

A. Corgi HomePlan has refunded the cost of your premiums plus the cost of the service provided by the engineer. You have received a payment of £425.82, which is significantly more than you requested. James Duffie, Corgi HomePlan's customer service director, apologises for the problems. He says: "We pride ourselves on our high level of customer service, but in this case there have clearly been failings both on the part of our appointed engineer and my administration team. I am working closely with my management team to improve communications between the engineers, ourselves and our customers to prevent this situation occurring again."

Q. Three years ago, we bought a fridge-freezer from John Lewis. It has since developed a fault that will cost more to repair than the purchase price of £350. We complained to John Lewis, but the best it will offer is a half-price replacement. It is reasonable to expect a fridge freezer should have a life of well over 10 years – my mother-in-law's freezer has lasted 54 years. Even Liebherr, the manufacturer, was shocked to learn that one of its products had given problems at "such a young age". Are we being unreasonable to demand a free replacement? AW, Sussex.

A. We raised this with John Lewis but it did not improve the offer it had already made. A spokeswoman says: "We have offered the customer a considerable amount towards a replacement fridge-freezer, and have found him a suitable alternative made by the same manufacturer." She said that the retailer was waiting to hear from you as to whether you found the offer acceptable . We offered to take the matter further by contacting Liebherr to discuss the problem, but you did not respond.

Q. Our 21-year-old son signed up with an employment agency, which found him his first job as a postgraduate. He was to be paid £80 a day plus travel costs. He was not told whether the £80 would be gross or net. He was later instructed to sign up with an umbrella company, which meant he had to pay both the employee's and the employer's national insurance contributions, plus a £27.50 weekly administration fee to the umbrella company.

When he finished the work, he requested the promised travel expenses of £50 a week. He was then told these were only a tax deduction as and when he began paying tax. He is unlikely to pay any tax this year. Umbrella companies can flout the rules designed to protect temporary staff by opting for the Swedish Derogation. The umbrella company also included his holiday pay within the £80 a day as "rolled-up pay", which we thought was unlawful. LK, Leicestershire.

A. Problems with employment agencies and umbrella companies can be taken to both HMRC and Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An Acas spokesman explains: "The Swedish Derogation applies when a temporary work agency can offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the agency worker between assignments. If no such contract is agreed, agency workers are classed as 'workers' rather than employees, and therefore have a different set of rights.

The Swedish Derogation allows for a temporary work agency to offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment. The agency worker will forgo their right to the same pay as if they had been recruited by the employer directly. In exchange, they establish their employment status as an 'employee' and gain the rights this entails." He adds: "Rolled-up holiday pay is when employers or employment agencies state that the hourly rate of pay includes an element of holiday pay.

This means that employees and agency workers are paid holiday pay within their normal wages throughout the year. An hourly rate of £7.20 might include a sum to cover annual leave. It is advisable that employees are paid holiday pay at the time the employees take their annual leave. There are very specific rules for using rolled up holiday pay." Acas warns that several risks about working for an employment agency should be considered.

The temporary contract is between the worker and the agency. Agency workers generally hold "worker status", limiting their employment rights – they are not entitled to claim redundancy pay or unfair dismissal. The employment agency can terminate the contract at any point, so there is less employment security.

Workers should check if the agreement is for a Swedish Derogation employment, or if employment is as a traditional agency worker. But regardless of the kind of contract, all workers and employees are protected by the national minimum wage provisions and working time legislation. As far as we can tell, what happened to your son does not breach the law. But it is a warning to others in a similar situation.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

    Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

    Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices